How Many Shoes Do I Really Need and other Philosophical Questions

I have a shoe problem, as you might have guessed from my posts about stepping in fresh concrete with my first pair of real shoes, the ever evolving saga of the Elf Boots , or my post about singing with my feet. I always have had a shoe problem. I can put together a really great outfit and singlehandedly…(singlefootedly?) ruin it with my choice of footwear.

Lucidity is a virtue

I recently saw a re-broadcast of a concert I sang back in 2017. At first, I was like… “Wow. I look so cute! My hair looks so good! I had a baby that year, but wow! Go me!”

And then, cut to a full-body shot in which featured my feet. And I groaned internally. “How is it possible that I walked out the door like that?”

Note to self: maryjanes and compression stockings
do not a fashion success make.

They were red leather maryjanes, absolutely gorgeous shoes which I had worn proudly for ten years but never once seen in a photo. I cannot count the number of times I have performed in those shoes.

Ugh. The length of my dress didn’t help, nor the fact that I was wearing sturdy, extremely matte nude colored compression stockings (pregnancy lifesavers!). I don’t tend to over-criticize myself, but in this case, lucidity is a virtue. I could have lived in blissful ignorance that even my favorite red maryjanes were problematic, but here we are.

Cue BonJovi: Living on One Pair!

The only extended period during which I didn’t experience this shoe disappointment was during our lockdown last year, when, for some reason which still escapes me, I decided to wear a pair of super comfortable, super cute wedge-heeled sandals all day everyday.

These little shoes got me through lockdown in comfort and style

As I have written in a previous post, I aced pandemic dressing during lockdown. I woke up every morning, put on a pretty dress, did my hair and makeup and acted like, more than ever before, everything was perfectly normal. It was a costume I put on everyday, thinking it was for my family’s benefit, but in all honesty, I now wonder if I didn’t do it to keep myself sane.

Long story longer, in August of last year I gave in to a fashion trend and bought myself a pair of white Adidas sneakers and have worn more than 100 times since.

No longer so sparkling white, they still charm me!

During the drier, not-boot worthy weather, these shoes were a welcome addition to the Pantheon, because they never left me feeling frumpy. I wore them with dresses and jeans and everything in between (including fluffy petticoats).

Sure, I have other sneakers. I have running shoes and a pair of turquoise New Balance that are chef’s kiss. But these are my white Adidas, which serve to elevate almost every single outfit in a pinch.

And now they are wearing out.

So, here comes my question: how many pairs of shoes do I really need? I mean, if in six months I wore these shoes more than 100 times, and with few exceptions, the other shoes I wore left me feeling un-put-together, what am I doing owning other shoes, or at least, other casual everyday shoes? What good are theoretically chef’s kiss turquoise New Balance if every time I wear them I feel silly and frumpy?

Theoretically Chef’s Kiss. Frumpy in Practice.

Embrace the Frump

I am a user-upper. I love to get down to the dregs of a beauty product, I love to add water to my dishsoap to get the very last bit at the end. I will wear a t-shirt I love until it is unintentionally and unevenly lacy with holes.

I realize that in my life I have worn out precious few shoes. My Elf Boots were the first time in a long time (the time before that was a pair of Converse All Stars) I loved a pair so much that they become unwearable.

I hate seeing things go unused. I feel guilty when I open my shoe bin and see so many unworn shoes. It feels like such a waste to me. So as I walk into the third month of my challenge, I am setting before me the goal of wearing out as many things as possible this year. The things I don’t really love. The things that make me feel frumpy. Ten months to use it all up, finish it all off. It will be a whole year of standing in front of the closet with pursed lips choosing the things I want to see gone by this time next year. And by gone, I mean USED UP.

It means ten months of Embracing the Frump. It means over the course of the next ten months, I get to figure out what I actually really love, so that I can make an investment next year. Hopefully by next year, I will have found my sweet spot; the elusive Venn Diagram of what makes me reliably feel great, reliably look great and is affordable.

I can do ten months.

Special thanks to Claudia Corbi Photography for the amazing photo of my shoes, and Lace and Grace Creations for the custom wedding gown!

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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